Thursday, April 20, 2006


UI Exclusive - Presidential voting rights to extend to NI!

Time to give those in the North voting rights My goodness they kept this one quiet but thankfully United Irelander has its finger on the pulse!

United Irelander can exclusively reveal that the Irish government is making preparations to amend the Irish constitution to ensure that "those not resident in the State of Ireland but citizens of the State of Ireland" will be allowed to vote in Presidential Elections. As well as that, there is a proposal to shorten the term of the Irish Presidency from 7 years to 5 years.

It's all contained in the Bill entitled Twenty-Eight Amendment of the Constitution which is discussed on the Oireachtas site here and which can be downloaded in full (in PDF format) here.

Of course this is huge news and if it is put to the electorate in a referendum and endorsed, it would mean that those in the North who carry Irish citizenship would finally, at long last, have the opportunity of voting in Irish Presidential elections.

In the Explanatory Memorandum, the aims of the Bill are spelt out in detail:

Purpose of the Bill

"This Bill seeks to democratise the Office of the President and create a more active Presidency by lifting current restrictions on nomination procedures, increasing the activity between the Houses of the Oireachtas and the President, shortening the term of office and extending voting rights.

Provisions of the Bill

"Section 1 amends Article 12 of the Constitution to allow for the following: the opportunity for those not resident in the State of Ireland but citizens of the State of Ireland to vote in Presidential Elections, shortening the term of office to five years, changing the nomination procedures to allow a nomination for a Presidential candidate to be made by a minimum of five members of the Houses of the Oireachtas, four County Councils or a Citizen's Initiative of not less than twenty thousand people.

"Section 2 amends Article 13 of the Constitution to stipulate that the President shall address the Houses of Oireachtas once a year.

"Section 3 amends Article 31 of the Constitution to encourage the Council of State to meet more frequently stipulating that it should meet at least three times a year."

Big news, ladies and gents! Those of you who regularly read this site know that voting rights in Presidential elections for those in the North is an issue I strongly support and indeed I have put the issue to politicians I have interviewed here on United Irelander on many occasions. It's great to see movement on this issue at last and I likewise support the decision to shorten the Presidential term from seven to five years.

Why all the secrecy though? Are the media aware of this yet? I've not seen other blogs discuss it. One wonders why everything is so quiet since they can't alter the Irish constitution without a referendum anyway.

Still, it's huge news and also welcome news. Just remember, you heard it hear first, folks!

Update: Simon who runs The Dossing Times picked up on this interesting piece from the Bill. Quote:

"Every Citizen who has the right to vote at an election for members of Dáil Eireann regardless of their residency shall have the right to vote at an election for President"

As the Oasis Irish government website states in relation to those eligible to vote in elections and referenda...

- Irish citizens can vote in every election and referendum
- British citizens may vote at Dáil, European and local elections
- Other EU citizens may vote at European and local elections
- Non-EU citizens can vote at local elections only

It would seem to me then that this is a clever way of limiting those who can vote in Presidential elections and preventing a scenario such as exists in the US with people voting from all over the world.

Also, seeing as British citizens are allowed to vote in Dáil elections, according to the quote from the Bill cited above, I'm pretty sure they would also be allowed to vote in Irish Presidential elections. So everyone from the North would be allowed to vote. Is that right?

There's alot of legal mumbo-jumbo here!


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